Thursday, October 2, 2014

Movie Review: "Tusk" (2014)

Director: Kevin Smith
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
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Wallace (Justin Long) and his best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) are the hosts of a highly popular podcast comedy show called The Not-See Party. Wallace is about to fly to Canada to interview an internet video celebrity known as the Kill Bill Kid, who became famous after accidentally cutting off his own leg with a katana on camera. Unfortunately for Wallace, once he arrives in Ottawa, it turns out that Kill Bill Kid had committed suicide a couple days prior, rendering his trip to the great white north pointless. Determined to find a story and not waste the trip, Wallace comes across a flyer about a well-traveled man named Howard Howe (Michael Parks) who is offering a free room to anyone who will listen to stories about his global travels and do a little house work. Sadly, answering Howard Howe's flyer may turn out to be the worst mistake of Wallace's life. 

The only things we knew about this movie going into it were that it was directed by Kevin Smith and had something to do with a walrus. Smith has deviated from his usual movie path lately, so we didn't really know what to expect. In fact, we even went out of our way to a different theater to see this movie because we have loved his past work so much.

The end result? This movie can only be described as a comedic version of "The Human Centipede." Everything leading up to the last 30-ish minutes of the film is your typical horror film movie: someone gets abducted and held captive, said person is tortured in some way, the end happens and we all go our merry ways. It is once we reached these last 30-ish minutes where things start to get freaky!

The film as a whole is visually disturbing and darkly hilarious. Justin Long plays a foul mouthed "shock jock" with a brash comedic style. He success was built upon making jokes at the expense of other people, and though he seemed to be someone who started out with integrity, he is now just a mean, snarky twerp of a man. He is willing to sacrifice his own personal morals for fame and financial success. Haley Joel Osment's face hasn't changed one bit since the time he was a wee lad and made "The Sixth Sense." Now, his head and body have gotten much larger around it. It just goes to show that being a cute kid doesn't always mean you'll be a cute adult. He is still a decent enough actor though and performs well in what limited screen time he has. While these two actors make a compelling team, it is really the acting of Michael Parks, who Kevin Smith employs once again in his first horror film attempt since "Red State," that absolutely makes this film what it is. He plays villain Howard Howe, and once again does an excellent and devilish job in said role. In fact, the words he utters, though written by Smith, would be nothing without his delivery, given in an eloquent freakishness. His character starts out as a relatively harmless looking and sounding fellow, waxing poetic about his past travels and long, seasoned life. The switch from good to terrifying gets hit rather quickly, and we come to find that he is obsessed with walruses, so much so that he takes it upon himself to recreate his old friend Mr. Tusk so that they can have many an adventure once again. Well into the end portion of the film, Parks and Long have a very funny scene together, but one that is also slightly nightmare inducing, and that is all we will say.

Though this might seem like a movie you'd write off because it didn't get very heavily marketed, it is a must see for the walrus scenes alone. The makeup work in this film is impressive. It is really an unnerving sight to behold and one of the worst things I have seen on film to this date. The concept is so silly, yet when you actually see it on screen, it is creepy as hell. We don't want to give too much of it away, but the details in the walrus' makeup are just fabulously weird.

The story, though one that has been told time and time again, is simple yet extremely different than other horror movies. The beauty is in its bizarre simplicity. No one would think to make a walrus be a monster, and yet Kevin Smith has handed us another brilliant piece of writing, even if it moves a little slow every now and then. It has all the earmarks of a Kevin Smith epic, lots of quippy dialogue, tons of humor, and some oddball shit we soon won't forget.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 42%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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